Pandemic, Profits

A third week sick with flu, coughing fits, green
sputum, amoxicillin. The specialized vocabulary
of illness. My ailing body of words. Still ready
for poetry, and to go to work. The dandelions,
slope-shouldered, lean their burnished heads
toward the early sun. Nature never did betray
the heart that loved her. A few feet further on
the flowers are white-haired, gone to seed, one
breath will finish them. Last year our human
breath spread pandemic around the world. When
pigs gave us their virus, some called them swine.

We gloved and masked, thin armor against Nature
as she tested us in her favorite game, Evolve or
die, a 3-D global living-color beta run-through.

While the last tree I passed before my office door
ramified toward the sky, lifting up green obelisks
out of what, a month before, were nubs of buds
I didn’t even notice as I walked by. While frisky
pharmaceutical prices rose, motel hotel airline
profits fell, right-wing pundits blamed people
from other countries, and CNN never opined
on links between hog factory-farms in Veracruz
and North Carolina, lagoons of manure, vast
wastes of rotting pig parts, fumes, flies, birds,
the “free flow” of capital across borders, NAFTA,
anti-immigrant anti-union laws, the fecal pigsty
draining into the aquifer, fever, throats and bodies
sore everywhere, the coughing workers, neighbors.

The first death is never the first. Fighting this
disease for months…the pig waste for years, says
Erasto Bautista of La Gloria. Building up resistance.

“Nature never did betray…” is from William Wordsworth,
“Lines Composed….Above Tintern Abbey”

Bautista quote is from Fintan Dunne, “Cover-Up:  Mexican Government Lying About Swine Flu” 29 April 2009\ 

For more information, see Hillel Cohen,“Swine Flu, Pigs and Profits”



Minnie Bruce Pratt is a white anti-racist, anti-imperialist activist, born in 1946, in Selma, Alabama. Her poetry as a lesbian mother, Crime Against Nature, was chosen for the Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets, and recently re-issued by Sinister Wisdom/A Midsummer’s Night Press. Her most recent book is Inside the Money Machine, described by one reviewer as “anti-capitalist poetics in action.” She does organizing with the International Action Center, teaches at Syracuse University, and can be reached at


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  1. Pingback: Issue Eleven, 2015 | Matter

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